Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Little Context Please

Sometimes because I'm familiar with a particular verse or with a passage of Scripture I think I understand its meaning. However, lately I've noticed I've been missing something in the context.

For example, this morning I read Philippians chapter 4. I admittedly was only about 50% mentally engaged. But when I got to verse 13 I remembered how common a phrase that has become.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

It's a promise we hold onto with fierce diligence because it affirms who we are in Jesus Christ.

But then I noticed something in the context. In this passage Paul is thanking the Philippians for their gifts, which they had not been previously able to give. Paul uses this as a teaching moment, making it clear that financial stability should not effect our contentment.

Here's the passage that includes our beloved Philippians 4:13 ...

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

It's interesting how I never realized what the context of the famous verse was. But now that I see it, I am convicted to be much more careful with how I use the promise given in verse 13. Does the promise apply to many different situations? Sure it does. But it was precisely given for a certain circumstance and should most definitely be applied to that circumstance.

So the next time I'm discontent, worried about money, coveting something I don't have ... that's when I'll recall the promise that "I can do all things (even be content in any and every situation) through him who gives me strength!"

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